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American Chemical Society

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Journal of Physical Chemistry : A

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Calculation of the solvation free energy of ionic molecules is the principal source of errors in the quantum chemical evaluation of pKa values using implicit polarizable continuum solvent models. One of the important parameters affecting the performance of these models is the choice of atomic radii. Here, we assess the performance of the solvation model based on density (SMD) implicit solvation model employing SMD default radii (SMD) and Bondi radii (SMD-B), a set of empirical atomic radii developed based on the crystallographic data. For a set of 112 ions (60 anions and 52 cations), the SMD-B model showed lower mean unsigned error (MUE) for predicted aqueous solvation free energies (4.0 kcal/mol for anions and 2.4 kcal/mol for cations) compared to the standard SMD model (MUE of 5.0 kcal/mol for anions and 2.9 kcal/mol for cations). In particular, usage of Bondi radii improves the aqueous solvation energies of sulfur-containing ions by >5 kcal/mol compared to the SMD default radii. Indeed, for a set of 45 thiols, the SMD-B model was found to dramatically improve the predicted pKa values, with ∼1 pKa unit mean deviation from the experimental values, compared to ∼7 pKa units mean deviation for the SMD model with the default radii. These findings highlight the importance of the choice of atomic radii on the performance of the implicit solvation models.


Accepted version.Journal of Physical Chemistry : A, Vol. 123, No. 44 (July 18, 2019): 9498-9504. DOI. © 2019 American Chemical Society. Used with permission.

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